You better believe that when a pitcher thoroughly dominates a team one night, that same squad can’t wait for another shot at him.
The State College Spikes jumped all over the Mahoning Valley Scrappers 12-3 Sunday night after 2,402 waited through an hour rain delay at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park.
The Spikes roughed up Scrappers’ starter Luis Lugo for six hits and four runs in five innings after earning just one hit against the left-hander 10 days earlier.
“Well, we knew going into the game that he had good numbers and that actually kind of put a chip on our shoulder,” said Spikes centerfielder Jimmy Bosco. “We want to beat the best and at this point he’s had the best numbers.”
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The 19-year-old Lugo entered the game with a 0.56 ERA, which was tied for first in the New York-Penn League with Vermont’s Brent Powers. The Venezuela native is widely considered one of the Cleveland Indians’ top pitching prospects.
The Spikes (12-8) managed just two hits total against the Scrappers (7-14) in 2-0 loss June 27, but exploded for 14 Sunday. They were 7-for-13 with runners in scoring position.
Cesar Valera went 3-for-5, scored three runs and drove in another for State College. He had the Spikes’ only hit in the first meeting with Lugo, while on Sunday he fell a home run short of a cycle.
Bosco went 2-for-5 and tripled off Lugo in the fifth, while David Washington knocked in three runs, which puts him atop the NY-PL with 18. Mason Katz went 2-for-4 and Alex De Leon hit his first career home run — a two run shot to left in the sixth.
Trevor Martin (2-for-4) and Matthew Young (2-for-3, two runs) also had multi-hit games. Ronald Castillo went hitless, which ended his hit streak at 10 games.
“These guys prepared really well,” said Spikes manager Oliver Marmol, adding that hitting coach Ramon “Smokey” Ortiz spent extra time preparing them to face Lugo.
“Smokey set up some stations for them to simulate what they would see tonight so they wouldn’t be caught off guard. They did a nice job of having a plan and executing that plan.”
Chase Brookeshire started for the Spikes, but Kevin Herget (3-0) got the win. Brookeshire saw his first action since coming off the disabled list and allowed one hit and struck out two in two innings.
Lugo (1-2) took the loss in five after facing one more than the minimum through the first three.
“He started off pretty solid,” said Scrappers pitching coach Scott Erickson. “I thought he started getting under his curveball a little bit and couldn’t get it into the zone for a strike. Then he basically stopped throwing it.”
Erickson, a former Major League pitcher, said when Lugo is sharp he has command over his off-speed pitches.
“The first three innings you saw it,” he said. “A couple breaking-ball strikeouts and then froze a few guys with sharp breaking pitches … today he just got under it.”
With Lugo dealing early, it seemed the Scrappers had control after taking a 3-0 lead on Herget in the third on a Juan Romero RBI single and a Juan Herrera two-run double .
The bullpen, as it has done all season, shut the door to preserve another victory for State College.
Mitch Harris, who hasn’t allowed an earned run in nine innings this season, retired all six batters he faced. He has allowed just three baserunners this season.
“A lot of confidence,” Marmol said of Harris, whose fastball was clocked at 95 mph Sunday. “He’s picking up some velocity, which is great. That’s what we’ve been kind of waiting for. He was gone from the game and it was going to take him a while to build that (velocity) back.”
Harris, 27, fulfilled nearly five years of active duty after graduating from the U.S. Naval Academy in 2008.
Jacob Booden, in his first action since being called up from Johnson City, struck out five of the eight batters he faced in two innings of relief.
The Spikes and Scrappers will meet again in the three-game series at 7 p.m. Monday when Ben O’Shea (2-1) goes for State College, facing the Scrappers for the second time this season, and Caleb Hamrick (1-3) starts for Mahoning Valley.